by Peter Cook
This is my latest big idea. Let’s bring back Dickens.
Forget those old campaigns to fetch HMS Victory back to Chatham, where she was built. That plan is dead in the water. Or rather dead in the concrete.
We would need dozens of road drills to dig her out before we could even get a tow line aboard. That might wake up the neighbours.
Dickens is a different matter. And we would be doing the old boy a favour. We’d also be doing Rochester a favour and people could come and pay homage at his tomb for free, instead of having to pay through the nose like you do in Westminster Abbey.
He never wanted to be buried in Westminster Abbey with all those other puffed-up writers.
The original plan was to pop him into Shorne Churchyard. But that might be a bit close to the motorway these days, albeit quite near Cobham Woods, where he loved to walk.
The Dean and Chapter at Rochester Cathedral offered to have him interred there. A grave was even dug for him. Perhaps it’s still there under the flagstones, waiting to collapse under some preaching prelate.
Imagine the astonished looks on the faces of the choir as the Dean or even the Bishop was inexplicably swallowed up, with just a puff of masonry dust to show where he had been.
Being realistic, they have probably put someone else in there now. After all, if you’ve dug a good hole, you don’t want to waste it.
So let’s start a campaign now to have the coffin exhumed and repatriated to the city that he knew and loved – well, it soon will be a city.
Devotees would flock to Rochester from every country where Dickens is read and loved – and that’s just about every country.
At a stroke it would make Rochester High Street a commercial gold mine, offering everything from Dickens soap on a rope, take-aways from the Chuzzlewit Chip Shop, treatments at the Our Mutual Massage Parlour and so on. Actually, it’s a bit like that now.
So I’m looking for full support for this campaign. The next Dickens Festival should be a protest march with placard-carrying characters from his books chanting Bring Back Boz.